Richland County Coroner Gary Watts on Tuesday identified the sixth and seventh victims in Richland County related to the historic rainfall and flooding in South Carolina over the past few days.
All seven deaths were drownings and were vehicle-related, Watts said. He said all seven were found on or near roadways and that it appears the victims were attempting to drive through standing or moving water.
Richard Milroy, 82, was found dead in his vehicle on Monday night, according to a press release from Watts. Milroy’s vehicle had been underwater on Peeples Street, said Richland County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Curtis Wilson.
Sampson Pringle, 30, of Columbia, was retrieved from Carys Lake near the 6800 block of Trenholm Road Tuesday morning, Watts said.
Richland County deputies and Columbia firefighters retrieved the man from the lake, Wilson said. The location where the body was retrieved is several blocks south of Dent Middle School and Decker Boulevard.
Watts on Monday afternoon identified five other victims, all Columbia residents, who had been found dead in their vehicles Sunday night or Monday morning.
Alex Holmes, 24; Robert McCarty, 78; and SCDOT highway worker Timothy Gibson, 45; were all found dead Sunday night, according to Watts’ release. Melissa Hall, 35, and Robert Allawos, 60, were found dead Monday morning, the release said.
Holmes had visited a hospital with a stomach ailment early Sunday morning and was driving home when she became trapped in water, said Peggy Souder, who said she was Holmes’ grandmother.
Souder said Holmes called a friend on the phone and said her car was filling up with water. When Holmes’ friend advised her to roll down her windows and swim out, Souder said, Holmes said that her car battery had died and that her battery-powered windows wouldn’t roll down.
Souder said Holmes’ friend could hear her panicking over the phone before the call was dropped. Souder said she was devastated when she heard the news.
“She had just a wonderful personality. Everywhere she went, she made people smile,” Souder said. “To know her was a blessing. To not know her, you just missed out.”
Gibson, who had worked at the SCDOT since February 2013, was killed by floodwaters when his truck was flipped and swept away. Gibson’s wife, Allison Gibson, said her husband was driving to assist a crew with a tree that had fallen in a roadway.
She said they had just celebrated their 13th anniversary and that her husband, an avid outdoorsman, loved his job.
“He was not the kind of person to take sick days or show up late,” Allison Gibson said. “If he had to work at 8, he would be there at 7:15 instead. He was really devoted to his job.”
Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday said the state’s death toll is up to 14.